sominsky-glialremodelingenhances-2020.pdf (7.84 MB)
Glial remodeling enhances short-term memory performance in Wistar rats
journal contributionposted on 2020-01-01, 00:00 authored by S N De Luca, A Soch, Luba SominskyLuba Sominsky, T X Nguyen, A Bosakhar, S J Spencer
Background Microglia play a key role in neuronal circuit and synaptic maturation in the developing brain. In the healthy adult, however, their role is less clear: microglial hyperactivation in adults can be detrimental to memory due to excessive synaptic pruning, yet learning and memory can also be impaired in the absence of these cells. In this study, we therefore aimed to determine how microglia contribute to short-term memory in healthy adults. Methods To this end, we developed a Cx3cr1-Dtr transgenic Wistar rat with a diphtheria toxin receptor (Dtr) gene inserted into the fractalkine receptor (Cx3cr1) promoter, expressed on microglia and monocytes. This model allows acute microglial and monocyte ablation upon application of diphtheria toxin, enabling us to directly assess microglia’s role in memory. Results Here, we show that short-term memory in the novel object and place recognition tasks is entirely unaffected by acute microglial ablation. However, when microglia repopulate the brain after depletion, learning and memory performance in these tasks is improved. This transitory memory enhancement is associated with an ameboid morphology in the newly repopulated microglial cells and increased astrocyte density that are linked with a higher density of mature hippocampal synaptic spines and differences in pre- and post-synaptic markers. Conclusions These data indicate that glia play a complex role in the healthy adult animal in supporting appropriate learning and memory and that subtle changes to the function of these cells may strategically enhance memory.